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Monday, September 1, 2014

In a Galaxy Far Far Away...

This may or may not work. To say that we've been technology challenged is putting it mildly.  I've taken a bit of a blog holiday, and for that I am truly penitent.  Methinks a psychoanalyst might find a look into my brain at least noteworthy over the last 4 or 5 months.  But let us press on!!  China.  What a ride!!  "What cannot be described must be experienced."  Amen, brother.  We are in Chengdu, China--capital of the Sichuan province--home of the country's most populated panda preserve AND largest building in the world.  Think NYC quadrupled and given multiple more dozens of square miles to lap over into.  Picture a huge bowl full of 14 million people in the foothills of the Himalayas.  I'll have to picture along with you because those mountains have yet to be seen--probably too far away or maybe too "misted"--a euphemism for polluted.  We've seen the sun a little but no blue sky.  And while you're at it, conjure up an image of creative traffic patterns peppered with a patrillion scooters and bikes.  We live in a somewhat quiet gated complex near our university's old campus.  Our apartment is rather large and comfortable, but the kitchen is straight out of a nursery school play corner!  Easy bake oven and all!  No shelves or cupboards in there.  I think we'll try and do some cooking when the dust settles here and we can think along those lines.  Until then we eat traditional foods in our neighborhood.  Whoa howdy...another post or two or three for that down the road.  Our teaching assignments take place on the campus of the new (5 years old) campus 40 minutes on a bus away from our digs.  IT IS UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL.  TRULY.  Jerry is off teaching his first class as I write this.  I dive in tomorrow.  I will be teaching a class of PhD students and 3 other sections of sophomores who are getting joint degrees from the University of Glasgow.  Professors come several times a month from Scotland to share that with us.  We have been quite bold to venture out--both walking, in taxis, and on the metro.  Other than the robbery the third night here and the annoying amount of stress incident to landing in a foreign country AND the red tape, we are swell.  It is very very very interesting.  You all need to come and see it firsthand!  I particularly enjoy smiling at all the grandparents with the grandbabies.  I'll send pictures. I need to blog about the amazing temple, church, the other teachers, and my humidity-induced frizzy hair.  Oh, and the down time!!!!!  I've read 6 books!  I know!!  Lastly, could you please send any and all recipes that call for chicken feet.  Seriously.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Turn Right At the Confederate Flag!"

I went "grave robbing" at the local cemetery today--retrieving mums to replant in my garden, actually, but I had you going, didn't I.  Someone had hooked up a hose to the faucet and had left the water running on the grass around a gravestone, so I borrowed the hose and watered a few drooping mums on the graves in the neighborhood of my parents' headstones.  Next to my parents' grave is a Confederate flag which adorns the grave of "a true southern bell".  I gave that old gal's flowers a good long dose. It was a grim stroll down memory lane.  A enighboring grave was of a classmate of mine from high school who unfortunately took his own life.  I watered around his headstone and gave the flowers a drink.  Then I pulled the hose over to the parents' of my good friend, Glay.  I washed off a little bit of bird poop and then turned another direction pausing at the graves of my P.E. teacher, Mrs. Rich, and high school librarian, Mr. Wilde.  That grave was just fresh because his wife died last winter and grass hasn't grown yet.  Over that way was the headstone of a former student--yet another suicide.  Too young to die.  There was the marker for the town florist I remember as a kid.  Up that way was the grave of a daughter of my sister's best friend in high school.  I remember that funeral--she was a young BYU student who fell asleep at the wheel returning home to CA one summer.  As I headed down the hill ("Wow, Madd!!.  You haven't even had a second to blog in goodness knows how long, and here you are wandering aimlessly among the dead...unexpected time on your hands???"), I noticed a marker with the names (no death date) of an elderly couple  I would greet by name when I pumped gas in about 20 minutes!  I'll bet all their drawers are orderly too!  I passed the marker of my neighbor Helen who died unexpectedly two winters ago. A friend and former English teacher I taught with (and whose daughter took my place when I left 7th grade a year ago) has a Henry David Thoreau quote on her tombstone--the one about leaving your castles in the air where they belong and building steps up to it. Lots of pictures of temples etched in stone.  Trout.  Elk. Lots of pine trees etched in--some with cabins in the foreground. Even a motorcycle appeared to grace a final resting place.  I can't imagine what I'd want on mine.   Quiet up there today.  I've visited this place many times.  It used to be a close walk when I lived just down the road.  I walked my beagle there.  It is also close enough to the high school that I could walk students over to sit and read  Spoon River Anthology or compose original poetry.  One spring my juniors were reading Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine.  With a little research we learned that the Brits celebrate Dandelion Day which sounded like a smashing idea to us as well!  When the exact day arrived, we drug all manner of breakfast food over one morning and had breakfast on a blanket.  Then we picked some dandelions and ate them dipped in batter and deep fried the next day!  Tasted like mushrooms.  The thought entered my mind today that perhaps I too ought to  buy a little plot up there--save my survivors the trouble--beat the rush. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


We have a plethora of beautiful girls in our second generation--meet Lorelai.  She looks determined with a sweetness chaser.  I can't wait to meet her.  I'll probably need a bib and utensils because I plan on eating her up!  She makes NINE grandkids--six pink, three blue.  Smashing fun!  I love her ballerina ostrich.  She sent me some birthday greetings and apologized for coming 4 days early of that.  Not to worry.  We'll share the same zodiac sign and call it good.  I find myself peering deep into this picture--trying to perceive her soul, you know.  She may be a caboose in that family.  I'm wondering who was at her send-off celebration...Will she be the doll toting sidekick her sister Rosie really needs?  I hope her arms are skinny enough for the sweater I'm knitting!  Dog lover or cat affecianado?  Tummy or back sleeper?  Mommy's girl or Daddy's?  Are there mud puddles in her future?  Bubble baths?  She seems completely likeable to me.  Welcome to the circus, Lorelai.   Grab a hand, hold on, enjoy the cotton candy, and watch out for the tigers...Love, Grammy

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How It All Came Out Today

I can't really speak for everyone, but at OUR house the decades are fairly spinning--like a giant Groucho Marx You Bet Your Life spinner with a sneer on its face.  Why, it seems only yesterday ("Can I?  Huh?  Huh?  Can I?  Not 'til I'm 50?? Awww heck.") that I was toddling off to my very first colonoscopy.  Omaha it was.  2004.  And now a decade later...

I'm not going too far into details, just can't resist the highlights.  Paco left the house early early today to get a crown on a tooth he broke.  One car is in the shop, so I said all gallant like, "Ill just walk."  We live about 3 miles from the hospital, but the day was above freezing--bikini weather for Brrrrrr Lake.  Now, I'm just vain enough that I took some extra time today getting ready.  Don't want anyone examining my ROOTS along with my colon!  Neither do I want to become legendary for fuzzy legs.  Needless to say my pastoral walk into town turned into alternate speed walking/jogging as I raced the clock.  It seemed too early to solicit friend help, and besides my phone was dead.  With a mile left and my appointment time behind me, I hailed down a car.  She waved merrily and passed me by.  Then I got aggressive and stepped out in front of the next truck, flailing both arms this time.  And THAT is how I ended up being delivered to my colonoscopy by a Peruvian sheep rancher.  Honestly.

P.S.  Who knew my procedure included lunch in the cafeteria for me AND my newly-crowned designated driver!  AND I got an A FREAKING PLUS on my colon!!!!!!!!  Whoooo--eeeee!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

I've done some crazy things in my day, but I don't think I've ever masking taped whiskers to my cheek.  That puts you one up on me, Pete.  Hats off to you!  I celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday every year and have done since it began a few decades ago following his death.  This year I sent out copies of Bartholomew and the Oobleck with good intentions of following it up with a box of corn startch for ooblecking.  Good intentions.. If the truth be known, I'm only a semi-fan of Dr. Seuss' books.  He scores high on whimsy, medium to low on content, and higher than average on morals in my book, yet I remain a fan of celebrating his birthday and do so with more fanfare than most.  We're dragging it out at my school this week, so I can really sink my teeth in this year.  We'll decorate a tree, write some 100 wordbank stories (that's all Dr. Seuss was allowed by Random House for The Cat in the Hat,) read some old Seuss books, maybe make some treats, don some hats, decorate a bit, and invite some readers in.  I don't sound like a semi fan do I?  I just don't think he falls into any greatness categories.  In 1991 I had students write the title of their favorite Seuss book on a large poster of the cat in the hat which we laminated, rolled into a mailer, added an Idaho centennial cap, and shipped off to La Jolla, CA, where he lived at the time.  I've told my heartsick story about preserving the letter he sent back to us SOOOOOOOOOO well that it's STILL in hiding!  Then a few months later he died.  Dr. Seuss represents serendipity to me.  He fell into children's books, fell into infamy.  I don't think he was too conscious about any of it.  He had a natural gift for rhyme.  In another time and place, he'd have probably made a dandy advertising copy writer.  Back in the day he was a man in the right place at the right time--wide open market.  But then, he pretty much cornered red and white stripes, didn't he?  I don't mean to be too hard on the old guy.  I still remain a fan.

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley